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Casting a vision for new tech ministry
My role at church is the Tech Arts Ministry Leader and I am responsible for all things technical across the church, sound booth, lighting, video, presentation, servers, desktop, network and anything else electronic, basically.
The church is very well established and never really had anyone in this role, at least not recently. Things have gone well for the last 6 months or so that I have been in this role but I'm starting to see some resistance as I'm beginning to get my arms around some things. I have heard the 'We've never done it that way before' from church members but not yet from the church leadership. The leadership has always been supportive and encouraging with the things I am doing and changing. When I hear someone say we've never done it that way, I just suggest that we give it a shot and if it doesn't go well, we will go back. I've never had to go back, at least yet!
This week, I have had some discussion with one of the pastors about something I have started doing and it comes down to the church got burned in the past in doing something similar. I understand that and I want to be sensitive to that. Also, I was not aware of that.
We are having lunch next week to discuss these things and I feel like I need to share my vision for where I see us going because I believe it's what we need to do. I also think it comes down to growing pains, we are growing church still doing things the way they have always been done and I'm looking at it from the perspective of preparing to be larger and having to handle things at a larger scale.
It will be a good discussion and I have no problem scaling back my efforts in order to come together with the leadership of the church, but I also feel like I'm in a position to lead us up to the next level in certain areas.
I plan to document where I see us going so it's easy to share my vision, but I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions for me at this point. Ultimately, I feel like I'm doing what is best for the church in the use of technology and I need to make the sale, so to speak, so that I have support. I know change in church is slow most of the time, so I may just have to slow myself down, but I need to share my vision in a way that makes sense and is easy to understand. As far as I'm concerned, the time frame is irrelevant, but I just want to be moving in step with the rest of the leadership in the church.
Any tips on sharing this vision? I have been vague but I'll share more detail if necessary.
Thank you very much!
I'm thinking a nice written plan -
A. Where we are now -
B. Where we want to be in 5 (or 10) years
C. How I see us getting there
Make sure you include the reasoning why (especially since they were burnt before) and be open to their suggestions too.
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My pastor says it's important to share the "why" behind the "what". Why are we going there? If it doesn't further the church's mission, we've got an issue.
Don't let "being burned in the past" ever be an excuse not to do what God is calling you to. I'm reading John and have seen a pattern--Jesus speaks truth to the people and people plan to kill Him. I'd say that qualifies as being burned, but it didn't stop Him. Don't let the past stop the future.
Now if the church was "burned" as a result of it's (or leadership's) sin, don't go down that road.
I will attempt to give a fair reply without going on a rant because I really feel and understand where you are coming from.
I've learned that when you include the other [non technical] people in the decision making process, you get plenty of cooperation vs. saying "This is what we are doing. Get used to it."
When it comes to the pastor and his staff, they belong in the process. When it comes to the other regular church members, tell them to take their concerns to the pastor. I will revisit this point momentarily but first let me answer your primary question:
The best way to "sell" the idea of new technology is to express to your leadership that part of the reason why your position exists is to bring the church to its greatest potential. God gave man the ability to create, build, and develop tools for being able operate more efficiently. And you should also share with the leadership that it's important to tell the members that change is inevidable and we ought to mature enough to adapt. If you don't change you don't grow. If the church resists new information and new ways of doing things then it is likely to perish.
Secondly, I would suggest using a statement similar to this one: "..if I understand the vision and the mission of this church correctly, we are a progressive church that wants to reach out to the youth and young adults of our community, correct? If this is the case then we need to be up with the times and not behind the technology curve. When this church was first established and this building was newly built, it had the latest and greatest technological advances available at that time. Being that this church was built in the 1970's (modify it to the correct time period) it was probably thought to be radical for its time being that most churches didn't have air conditioning, electricity, an electric typewriter, or even a phone for that matter. But the leadership at that time deemed these things necessary in order to be able to effectively reach the people and operate efficiently . Now in 2008, it takes more than indoor plumbing and wall-to-wall carpeting to attract new converts."
Either you will win them over or they will kick you out of the ministry. But in a best case scenario they will agree with you 100%. After saying that, the next thing you should do is remain completely silent and attentively listen to what anyone has to say. Don't interject or offer any clarification unless they ask you a question. Just take note of what they are saying and how they understood and received what you said.
Now going back to the first part of my post, add them into the decision making process. You are the guy that knows the nuts and bolts of how to make things work but you have to visibly and verbally relinquish control of the "what's best for the church" controls. Like for instance if there is a need for a TV in the nursery or daycare pick out some models and compare the pros and cons of each and ask the people above you what they think about it. Share with them the TV that you wanted to get and why you wanted to get that particular brand/model. One of 2 things will happen- A: they will say, "Hmmm.. I am not sure but I will leave it up to you since you know these things better than I do.." or B: "We don't need a TV in there. The 9 and 10 year old children are perfectly fine playing with the ABC blocks."
In the unfortunate instance where letter B occurs, then you can explain to them that the children of today watch so much television that they are addicted to it and have a very short attention span. For the hour or so that we have with them, we can keep their attention for the hour or so that they are here with something spiritual and biblical. We can't reach them with books but certainly with television we can feed something useful into them.
But usually letter A will be the result if your church is really on board with the vision of updated technology. Most times the leadership leaves it to me to pick out the items that we need/want but sometimes they appreciate sitting down with me and talking about whether we really need a new projector for the sanctuary or if we are perfectly fine propping up the 25-inch floor model on the pulpit.
Also know that when they say "No" today, it does not necessarily mean "no" tomorrow. Sometimes when a leader denies a request, it's not always a matter of "we don't really need that" as much as it is about other things that the church wants to do first. Like if the church incurred an unexpected expense and the offering last Sunday was a little bit less than what they had anticipated, then the last thing that the pastor wants to consider is a new projector. But then next month when the pastor realizes that the expense was not as big as he anticipated and he was worried about seemingly nothing, then you might be able to approach him again.
John Wesley gave out books (an expensive and popular medium at the time)
We need to go with the popular and effective medium for our time.
I have to say that I am in the same boat in a lot of ways that you are. My church has appointed me to do the same thing that you are. We arent a huge church but not small either. Atleast not in my eyes. We have about 400 on sunday mornings.
I have to slow myself down every once in awhile to let the church catch up. When i first started helping out 2 years ago the church we still living in 1994 when the church building we are in now was built. The camera that we where using was from the 80's. The only thing that was updated was the projector system that they put in in 2002. The sound system was put in by the good ole boy system because we go burned by a group that sold us a system and ran in 93(the year before the construction was finished). They ended up not shipping us all of the equipment and we had to get buy and have been doing so since. I finally after a year of research and talking with a consultant got that worked out. The new sound system was approved by the finance committee and the congregation this week. We put the order in today. PRAISE GOD!!!. It is going to cost us about 33,000.00 with the consultation, design, install, and equipment. Our church has truly been blessed this year and we had the budget to do this with no problems. I have members that say the same things about what I am trying to accomplish in the church. gradualy I am gettiing new equipment in but it definatly takes time to change what has been in place for 15 years.
Hello... I have to say this is my first post, but felt the need to chime in as well. I too am in the boat of anything computer base and art base goes towards my directions. Although we are a small church I love the fact the we are willing to try new things, biblical base of course to see what works and what doesn't work.
We are so driven from media in this age that it is almost impossible not to have power point or media shout help with the message. When I approach ideas i find it common for people NOT see the "vision" (mainly because most of it is in my head i guess). So what I do is scale down the project into something I can show them. A 1min video, a graphic or sketch for a banner, hardware needed to complete (example of work) etc... and use that as a spring board for the main idea. I'm not sure if this is the way to go, but this is just my approach in helping other people see the ideas that I have.
Thank you all for your replies! It's all good and I love hearing other perspectives. As I have pondered this situation that I am in, I have come to a conclusion, I think.
Up to now, I have just blazed forward doing my own thing, doing what I think is best, which is what I was charged to do. I think I'm reaching a point where I'm starting to hit close to where some people live plus I'm starting to tread in areas where they have had not so good experiences. I welcome the conversation because I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable but I think the direction I'm taking things is right, but just different than the way things have been done in the past. They have put others in my role, with high expectations and seen little results, however I am taking this very seriously and intend to take it to the next level, at least.
What I have learned this week is I need to slow down, document everything I am doing and everything I am going to do. I need to communicate with the staff about procedures I am implementing. Right now, I strongly believe that 1/2 the church knows the administrator password to the network. I have given a couple of lay leaders their own login, so when they need to get on, they can. Soon, I intend to change the admin password, plus I have already disabled a user ID that many people know.
Part of the issue is allowing certain non-staff people to have their own signon. My point is I would rather know exactly who is logging on rather than having a wide open administrator login. I guess I'm causing us to stop burying our heads in the sand and face something that is already going on and getting control of it.
I think the big thing is communication, starting with documentation, then expressing to the people that need to know what is going on and why.
I can't document as much as I would like by Monday, so I'm planning to put together a high level document of what I see as priorities. I plan to ask if I can come to the staff meeting soon to hand out a document and explain my priorities and cast a vision for tech in the office, plus answer any questions or concerns.
I'll share here how things progress. thanks again.
Jim, you absolutely need to get a handle on your network situation. An unwary user with administrative privileges can, without any intent or malice, accidentally destroy your Church Management System or other databases and bring your network to a screeching halt. There are also legal reasons you need to control access to these systems and the information they contain.
I just realized, I need to update this situation. I had lunch with one of the pastors about a week ago and he shared with me that they are pretty cautious about having people on the network. I myself, am fully trusted, but we need to be very careful about how things are handled. An example was that the 3 pastors have X3 watch on their computers and they are each others accountability partners. Well if someone on my team came in and perused to some bad sites on one of these computers, the next day, the other 2 will be notified. There is no way to know who it was, just that that particular computer went there. The pastor has no leg to stand on to say it wasn't him last night at 9:15, it must of been the tech team, that kind of thing.
I understand that completely. My perspective is that I can do all of this on my own, maintain computers, network, servers etc., I have done it before at a different church, but based on that experience, I think it's better to have a team approach. He had no problem with that, he understands where I'm coming from and my heart for this ministry.
What I have done now is come up with a very structured plan for any of us to get on anyone's computer.
I am documenting it and will roll it out soon but the key is I will have a single tech team login that is disabled until we are in there working. Then I will enable it with a new password. I will have notified the person ahead of time that someone will be getting on their PC between a certain time frame. we will leave a detailed note of who was there, what was done, start time, stop time etc. I will keep a copy in a file and I will be close by for the entire time. When our work is done for the evening, I will disable the tech team login.
The point is to control who accesses the network when and to know why anyone was on.
The vision I shared with this pastor, which was 3 points, I figured he could relate to that, is:
Thank you all for your input, as this takes shape, I might share my documentation and process flow if anyone is interested.
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